More than a million people in the UK are arachnophobic, and most of the rest of the nation aren’t exactly huge fans of the tiny terrors.
But while it’s easy enough to get away from our eight-legged ‘friends’ in the house or garden, it’s a different matter entirely in the restricted space of a car, where the sight of a spider could cause accidents if drivers panic.
Spiders are known to be attracted to cars, probably because they like to hide in places that are warm and sheltered, and they love a bit of dirt.
But even though spiders perform a very useful function because they eat other bugs, it’s probably best to get rid of car spiders to prevent the sight of them causing accidents. Here are a few suggestions as to how you can do it:
1. Be aware of exactly where spiders may be living in the car. The most likely places are behind the wing mirrors and in the air vents. Other areas include under the bonnet away from the engine, where leaves may gather.
2. Keep doors and windows closed, and make sure any gaps are plugged.
3. Thoroughly vacuum the interior, including under the seats and inside the boot and any other compartments, to get rid of spider webs and dirt that attracts spiders.
4. Spray surfaces with all-purpose cleaner and wipe.
5. Some websites recommend spraying hard surfaces inside the car with an insecticide. However, spider expert Dr Geoff Oxford, honorary secretary of the British Arachnological Society, warns: “Spraying insecticide around in the confined space of a car is not recommended from a human health point of view; spiders might not be as sensitive to these products as insects anyway.”
6. Mix three parts white vinegar, which spiders don’t like, with one part vanilla extract. Spray it in the car and put a few soaked cotton wool balls in the boot and glove compartment. Resoak them every few days to keep repelling the spiders.
7. Spiders don't like the smell of citrus fruits like lemon, plus eucalyptus, tea-tree and peppermint oils. Try rubbing lemon peel around windows and doors, or spray the other scents around them.
8. Keep your car clean to stop spiders returning.